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Hopkins Center for the Arts
6041 Lower Level Wilson Hall             Contact: Becky Bailey
Dartmouth College                        Voice: 603.646.3991
Hanover, NH 03755                        Email:

For Immediate Release: February 15, 2010

                 'The Living Legend You've Never Heard Of':
   Azerbaijani Spiritual Singer and Daughter/Protégée Come to Dartmouth

Alim & Fargana Qasimov: The Spiritual Sounds of Azerbaijan
Azerbaijani national treasure and Sufi songmaster and his daughter/protégée,
with ensemble
Wednesday, March 3, 7 pm
Rollins Chapel, Dartmouth College, Hanover NH
$26, $10 Dartmouth students, general admission
Information: Hopkins Center Box Office, 603.646.2422 or

"The Power of Mugham"
Dartmouth's Arthur R. Virgin Professor of Music Theodore Levin, a noted
specialist in Central Asian music and culture and board member of Yo-Yo Ma's
Silk Road Project, discusses the music and poetry of Azerbaijan.
Wednesday, March 3, 6 pm
105 Dartmouth Hall
Information: Hop Outreach, 603.646.2010

Qasimovs' page on website for Aga Khan Trust for Culture
Qasimovs' page on website for Silk Road Project
Qasimovs in performance

HANOVER, NH--Azerbaijan’s musical heritage is one of the planet's richest, the
product of the centuries of East-West cultural influences that have washed over
this ancient Silk Road nation.

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That musical wealth comes to Dartmouth's Rollins Chapel on Wednesday, March
3, at 7 pm, in a concert by the father-daughter team of Alim and Fargana
Qasimov and a quartet of young instrumentalists on Azerbaijani oboe, fiddle,
lute and drums.

The concert will be preceded by a discussion at 6 pm in 105 Dartmouth Hall, free
admission, of the Qasimovs and their musical tradition by Dartmouth's Arthur R.
Virgin Professor of Music Theodore Levin, a noted specialist in Central Asian
music and culture and board member of Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project.

A national treasure in his native Azerbaijan and winner of a 1999 UNESCO Music
Prize for Peace, Alim has been called “one of the world’s greatest vocalists...To
hear him is to be amazed” (ABC Radio) and "the living legend you've never heard
of" (The Times of London).

Performing since 2000 with Fargana, the two create impassioned, improvised
duets on traditional Azerbaijani folk and classical music, some out of the Sufi
Islamic sect that at one time dominated Azerbaijan. Wrote the Los Angeles
Times, "Qasimov's extraordinary improvisations, often matched by Fargana's
equally compelling musical lines, were masterful examples of the style's
mesmerizing blend of virtuosic, octave-stretching singing, intense expressiveness
and magical, on-the-spot inventiveness." The Evening Standard (London) wrote,
"His voice… pierced like a dart, high and ethereal, and then interwove with
Fargana's as if intoxicated with unrequited longing."

Born in 1957, Alim grew up in a village north of the Azerbaijan capital of Baku,
the son of farm workers on a Soviet commune. A keen singer from a young age,
he began singing at religious events and, at age 21, began a four-year program of
study of Azerbaijani classical music at a state music school. He began singing
professionally while the country was still under Soviet rule and its classical music
was not supported by the state. Performances were restricted and regarded by
the Communists as a local curiosity.

As Soviet power declined, however, Alim's popularity grew, his unusually
beautiful voice and passionate singing style drawing more listeners to the
heretofore dwindling art form. His stature allowed him to tour outside the Soviet
Bloc, a rare privilege, and his growing international recognition included awards
at the 1983 and 1987 UNESCO Symposia on Traditional and Modern Art of Central
Asian and Asian Countries. In 1988, he was introduced to the US by
ethnomusicologist Ted Levin, now Dartmouth's Arthur R. Virgin Professor of Music
and music adviser to the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which has co-sponsored the
Qasimovs' Dartmouth residency.

During the 1990s, after the Soviet Union dissolved and Azerbaijan became
independent, Alim was able to bring his music to still wider audiences. He was
named the "People's Artist of Azerbaijan" in 1993 and in 1999 joined the ranks of

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Dmitri Shostakovich, Leonard Bernstein, Ravi Shankar, Yehudi Menuhin and
others by winning the UNESCO award.

Starting in 2000, he began to include Fargana--then age 20 and his long-time
student--in performance. Recent years have included numerous collaborations
with musicians from around the world, including the Kronos Quartet and
musicians that, like the Qasimovs, are part of the international Silk Road Project
started by cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

At Dartmouth, the Qasimovs will be accompanied by young musicians who are
part of the current resurgence in traditional Azerbaijani music: Rauf Islamov on
kamancha, a four-string spiked fiddle; Rafael Asgarov on balaban, a cylindrical
oboe; Zaki Valiyev on tar, a double-chested plucked lute considered the
Azerbaijani national instrument; and Javidan Nabiyev on naghara, a double-sided
frame drum. Alim and Fargana both play the daf, a frame drum.

                                     *   *   *

Founded in 1962, the Hopkins Center for the Arts is a multi-disciplinary
academic, visual and performing arts center that presents more than 300 live
events and films each year. With Outreach and Arts Education programs serving
more than 22,000 Upper Valley residents and students annually, its mission is "to
ignite and sustain a passion for the arts within Dartmouth and its greater
community and to provide the core educational environment for the study,
creation and presentation of the arts."

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